US Hotels Offering Halloween Packages And Programming

sanctuary hotel Want to celebrate Halloween on the road this holiday? Stay at one of these U.S. hotels offering festive packages and programming.

The Sanctuary Hotel
New York, NY

Located in the heart of Manhattan, The Sanctuary Hotel is offering a “Haunted Hotel” package this Halloween. Along with luxurious accommodations, guests staying from October 29 to November 4 will receive:

  • A tour of the city in a hearse, highlighting everything from haunted buildings to where famous mobsters got whacked
  • A basket of sweet treats from Dylan’s Candy Bar in your room
  • A classic horror film screening in the hotel lobby on Halloween Eve, complete with popcorn and candy
  • Breakfast buffet each morning
  • Wi-Fi

Rates start at $554 per night based on double occupancy. Click here to book. Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
Sonoma, California

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is home to many eerie legends. For example, in the evening when the fog rolls in from the bay, people have claimed to see a hauntingly beautiful woman named Victoria strolling the hallways of the inn in period dress, sipping a Sonoma Pinot. Her heritage can be traced back to the founding fathers of Sonoma Valley, and she is said to have celebrated her wedding and many anniversaries at the resort. Additionally, the property was once a sacred healing ground for Native Americans, and guests have commented on the otherworldly presence at the inn. To help celebrate their ghostly past, the property will feature ghoulish offerings during September. Halloween-themed cocktails like the “Bloody-Tini” and the “Twilight Cocktail,” pumpkin-inspired spa treatments, a spirited seasonal wine and dinner pairing and tours of nearby haunted sites, like the Sebastiani Theatre, The Blue Wing Inn and the former Sonoma Asylum will all be available.

Rates start at $229 per night based on double occupancy. Click here to book.

hotel zaza houston Hotel ZaZa Houston
Houston, Texas

At Hotel ZaZa Houston, guests can enjoy a full weekend of tricks and treats this Halloween. From now through October 27, guests can enjoy:

  • One night of luxury accommodations
  • Admission for two to Bone-Appetit Pumpkin Sculpting on October 27th from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. with Executive Chef Jonathan Jones
  • Two complimentary drinks from the Witches Cauldron
  • Admission for two to Monarch’s Dancing in Dark Halloween Party on October 27, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., featuring nationally acclaimed DJ Lady Bunny
  • Parking
  • Wi-Fi

Rates start at $299 per night based on double occupancy. Click here to book.

Congress Hall Hotel
Cape May, New Jersey

To help get you in the mood for Halloween, Congress Hall Hotel is offering a “Phantom Ball” package. From October 26 to 28, participating guests will receive:

  • Two nights of accommodation
  • A $20 breakfast voucher for two each morning at the Blue Pig Tavern
  • Two tickets to Congress Hall’s “Phantom Ball” on Friday night
  • Two tickets to a Cape May ghost tour on the Victorian streets of Cape May on Saturday

Rates start at $284.28 per night based on double occupancy. Call 888.944.1816 to book.

stanley hotel The Stanley Hotel
Estes Park, Colorado

If this hotel could scare horror writer Stephen King, it must be terrifying. The Stanley Hotel is said to be a hot spot for ghosts, especially in room 217, the very room that served as the inspiration for King’s novel, “The Shining.” The property has also been featured in several episodes of “Ghost Hunters.” As if this is not enough, the property is featuring themed events, including:

  • Accommodations
  • Two tickets to the Shining Ball (October 27)
  • The chance to go on a five-hour ghost hunt with on-staff paranormal investigators and learn how to use ghost hunting tools and test their new skills in some of the property’s most haunted locations that are inaccessible to the general public

Rates start at $299 per night based on double occupancy. Click here to book.

The Ranch at Rock Creek
Philipsburg, Montana

This holiday, The Ranch at Rock Creek is offering a festive “Halloween at the Ranch” package for guests staying between October 31 through November 3. The promotion includes:

  • Three nights of accommodation in a Western-style luxury lodge
  • Non-stop festive activities, like trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, a costume contest, bonfires with spooky ghost stories, a photo scavenger hunt, and trips to the Granite County Ghost Hall of Fame and famous Sweet Palace Candy Shop for Halloween treats
  • Free accommodations for children under 17
  • A fall-inspired pumpkin scrub treatment for two at their onsite Granite Spa

Guests can also take part in the ranch’s usual fare, like carriage rides, horseback riding, sporting clay shooting, archery, fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, bowling and more.

All-inclusive rates for this package start at $850 per person, per night (aside for children under 17). Rates include all activities, luxury lodge accommodations, gourmet dining, premium beverages, two pumpkin scrub spa treatments and airport transfers. Email or call 406.859.6027 to book.

harbor beach marriott Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

At Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa there is fun to be had for kids and kids at heart throughout Halloween week with its “No Tricks Just Treats” package. From October 26 to November 3, guests will receive deluxe accommodations and a special trick-or-treating experience throughout the common rooms. Additionally, from October 27 to 28 and on the 31, themed activities will be held, including:

  • A Halloween obstacle course
  • Halloween mask/costume making
  • Themed arts & crafts
  • Traditional Halloween games
  • Themed cookie decorating
  • A family-friendly Halloween dive-in film on Halloween day

Rates start at $319 per night based on double occupancy. Click here to book.

Hershey Lodge
Hershey, Pennsylvania

Halloween is all about candy, so what better place to send it than the country’s chocolate hub, Hershey, Pennsylvania? The Hershey Lodge is offering a “Holiday in Hershey” package, which includes:

  • Deluxe accommodations
  • Breakfast with the Hershey’s product characters
  • One-day admission to Hersheypark in the Dark, their family-friendly Halloween alternative at Hersheypark
  • Admission to Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story’s Museum Experience

There will also be Halloween-themed activities for kids, like a “Witches Brewed Children’s Tea” on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. where children can come in costume to sample hot chocolate, orange and white chocolate teas and a variety of finger foods. The tea also includes pumpkin decorating, Halloween-themed storytelling and a kid-size apron. The cost is $40 for an adult and child, and $18 for each additional person.

The package is available Fridays and Saturdays from October 19 through November 3, with prices starting at $399 per person. Click here to book.

white house inn The White House Inn
Wilmington, Vermont

Ghosts and legends are a big part of Vermont’s culture, and have been for hundreds of years. To help celebrate the state’s heritage, The White House Inn will be hosting an eerie event on October 27. With the help of the inn’s own ghost, a baroness who haunts the halls, a séance and haunted tour will be held along with a three-course dinner. There will be two seatings, one at 7 p.m. and one at 9 p.m. The event will be led by a member of the New England Ghost Project, the area’s leading paranormal investigation team.

Rates start at $349 per night based on double occupancy. The dinner and séance event is $100. Click here to book.

Kalahari Resort
Sandusky, OH

If you’re looking to get wet this Halloween, Kalahari Resort boasts being home to the largest indoor waterpark in the country. Not only that, but this holiday, they’ll also be hosting a “Halloween Happenings” weekend from October 26 to 28. Festivities include Halloween coloring contests, arts and crafts, trick-or-treat bag designing, pumpkin painting at Safari Adventures, creepy cookie decorating, pumpkin bean bag toss, candy corn bingo, hula hoop competitions, costume parties, limbo competitions, Trick-or-Treating around the resort and more. With the package, guests will receive:

  • Admission to Kalahari’s indoor waterpark
  • Four black-light mini golf passes
  • Four Safari Adventures Animal Park passes

For a two-night package for up to four guests, prices range from $499.98 for a Hut Room to $579.98 for a Nomad Room or Lodge Suite. Click here to book.

New Mexico Tourism launches Billy the Kid-themed scavenger hunt featuring $10,000 reward

billy the kid, new mexicoThe Land of Enchantment just became the Land of Advancement. “Catch the Kid,” a new summer travel promotion launched by New Mexico Tourism Department, has turned the entire state into a “real life video game,” with the prize being $10,000 in cold, hard cash. “The Kid” in question is one William H. Bonney, aka “Billy the Kid.” Participants (it’s geared toward families) try to track down this most iconic of New Mexico outlaws by finding clues hidden throughout the state.

Now through September 24th, you can register your family online at to create a “posse profile,” as well as gain access to exclusive New Mexico travel deals and weekly vacation giveaways throughout the summer. The reward money is the inflation equivalent of the $500 reward offered by Governor Lew Wallace in 1881 for the Kid’s head.

If you have a smartphone, you can download the “Catch the Kid” smartphone app. Alternatively, you can play by taking pictures or you or your family posing next to clue posters placed throughout New Mexico, and upload them to your profile page. Designated locations around the state will unlock clues that lead to the Kid’s New Mexico hideout. The more clues you collect, the more information you’ll gather on when and how to capture the wily criminal. The first posse to present the Kid with an arrest warrant will win their handsome reward.

Players using a smartphone to play can unlock additional New Mexico travel deals and win prizes, because the app allows players to find Billy’s money bag loot which is virtually placed and hidden in every county in New Mexico. You’ll have the chance to use this loot to buy vacations, deals, or meals online in the general store section of the “Catch the Kid” website. Good luck, pardners.

Watch New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announce contest details, below

Twitter Giveaway: On the Ground with JetBlue in Manhattan

I was at the right place at the right time. JetBlue occupied the corner of E. 11th Street and University in Manhattan‘s East Village, giving away free tickets to anyone clad in blue and bearing something plane-related. The crowd rounded the corner, and loud cheers erupted as each victor claimed a voucher for travel. “Any city to any city does have a nice ring to it.” The crowd dispersed a little after 2 PM, and plenty of would-be travelers left happy. Among them were fellow writers David Farley (@davidfarley) and Charu Suri (@Butterflydiary) — great to meet you guys!

If you’ve ever needed a reason to follow JetBlue on Twitter, this is it.

Get $100 in Birthday Bucks from Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre, a chain of 35 boutique hotels in California, is making it a little easier to justify planning a birthday getaway this year. The Birthday Bucks deal knocks $100 off a two-night stay on or within seven days of your birthday. At the Galleria Park Hotel in San Francisco, for example, weekend rates start at $109. With this b-day discount, it’s almost like getting the second night free.

The credit, which is taken off your total bill when you check out, can also be used to offset room service, dinner at the hotel restaurant, or spa treatments. To sweeten the deal, the hotel staff may also surprise you with a gift, such as a cupcake, dinner appetizer, or glass of wine. Even kids under 18, if accompanied by a parent, can redeem the $100 Birthday Bucks.

But there’s a catch: the discount is per room per stay, not per birthday per stay. So twins who share a room would have to content themselves with one $100 discount, unless of course they booked separate rooms.

Details: Book by Jan. 31, 2011 with the promo code BUCKS. Travel between Feb. 1, 2010 and Jan. 31, 2011. For a list of the 35 properties, check out

Looks like it’s never too early to start dropping hints about your birthday.

Inside Air New Zealand’s Matchmaking Flight

When I first heard about Air New Zealand offering a Matchmaking Flight, I was amused. It sounded like a cute promotion from the quirky national airline of a pretty quirky country. And when the invitation came to check out their matchmaking site and cover the flight from on board the plane, I was more cautiously optimistic than downright excited. I mean, planes are meant for transport not entertainment. I sleep on flights. I hate talking to my neighbors. I had fears of being awake for the full 13 hours while desperate singles chatted idly about their hobbies and desire to have children before turning 40. The thought of observing dozens of blind dates crash and burn while trying not to think of crashing and burning had me fearing the worst.

But, I put those fears aside and soothed myself with thoughts of the lush countryside that I would enjoy once we got to Auckland and ventured further into New Zealand. So, on October 13, I flew to LAX and checked in for ANZ Flight 5: The Matchmaking Flight. Was it a worthy promotion? I was going to find out for myself.


Before even boarding the flight, passengers were invited to attend a party at the gate. Well, not all passengers. Only the 100 who were part of the promotion. The remaining passengers of ANZ Flight 5 waited at the main gate like regular travels. Representatives from the airline assured me that all of the passengers on the flight were called in advance and notified of the events that would be taking place on the flight to avoid any confusion and anger. Meanwhile, Matchmaking Flight attendees sipped specialty cocktails made from New Zealand vodka, enjoyed some speed dating (as much as speed dating can be enjoyed) and mingled. Many had “met” online using the airline’s Matchmaking Flight website, so putting faces with names filled the room with enthusiasm.

Perhaps the highlight of the pre-flight festivities was the performance by the ANZ flight crew. Ever seen your flight attendants and pilots dance to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” 20 minutes before boarding your flight? I have. It’s simultaneously hysterical and terrifying. I’m all for airlines having personality, but I was pleased to see the pilot flubbing his dance steps as if he’d skipped some rehearsals. I’d prefer his time be spent checking weather patterns and keeping himself well-rested.

When it came time to board, there was a palpable sense of nervous energy. People seemed genuinely excited, but also wary of what a 13 hour flight with slightly intoxicated travelers with an invitation to be social would entail.

The flight, however, was much better than I anticipated. Rather than hit passengers over the head with the promotion, the level of participation and engagement was left up to each individual. Gift bags were waiting on every seat and included useful products like lip balm and lotions, as well as cheeky matchmaking treats and conversation starters, such as body oil and woman’s panties. It was a safe environment for the airline to push the envelope a bit, as every participating passenger had agreed to the joke before stepping foot on the plane.

The flight’s concierge, Jaheb Barnett, used a portable PA system to address the Matchmaking Flight attendees rather than the plane’s built-in system. This saved the regular passengers from having their flight interrupted constantly. The airline did a mostly admirable job of separating the Matchmaking Flight population from the other passengers. A few travelers who were not looking for love were seated nearby and they grumbled a bit, but no one appeared too annoyed by the promotion.

Several of the passengers told me that they had booked the flight simply for the discounted airfare to New Zealand. Tiffani Hoffman from Minnesota said, “It was a cheap flight and I have a friend in New Zealand that I wanted to visit.” But it was also the second time Tiffani had ever flown in a plane (the first time was when she flew from Minneapolis to Los Angeles earlier that day), so the deal must have really motivated her.

LeeAnn and Ben Ziegler were heading to New Zealand on their honeymoon. Why take a matchmaking flight after getting married? “We saved tons of money on our honeymoon, so the fare definitely was the decision-maker.” Seeing as they were surrounded by singles, I asked the newlyweds what advice they would give to all those looking for love at 35,000 feet. LeAnn said, “Be authentic and be yourself.” And lest you think they were judgmental of 100 people seeking to meet their soulmates on an airplane, LeeAnn and Ben met online.

Corinne Theile and Steve Borgford were two of the travelers who were hoping to find their matches. Steve admitted, “The odds are against me,” but added, “My friends have been supportive and if all I get is some practice talking to women and a good vacation, then the trip was a success.” Corinne, from Los Angeles, had tried internet and speed dating, and thought that the Matchmaking Flight was “a cool idea.” Her friends thought she was crazy, but she said, “you have to be adventurous and get out there.”

After landing in Auckland early on October 15, passengers had time to get their bearings, explore the city and get over any jetlag before attending the Matchmaking Ball the next day. The event was attended by the 100 Matchmaking Flight passengers, as well as 150 Kiwis eager to mix and mingle with some single Yanks. After spending 13 hours cooped up in a plane, I was eager to shower and not see the same faces for the next 36 hours. Besides, with free wine and champagne at the party, I was sure to get my fill of singles being single when the time came.

The party was held at The Wharf, a posh Auckland event space located on Waitemata Harbour. I appreciated seeing everyone cleaned up and smelling more like deodorant and less like recycled air and quiet desperation. The festivities included an impromptu round of The Dating Game, plenty of dance music and the aforementioned alcohol. Things started off slowly as people chatted and loosened up. Airline promotion or not, going to a singles mixer can be a tad awkward and that was certainly visible as I creepily watched from the sidelines.

Slowly but surely, though, people got comfortable (read: drunk) and the dance floor became a hotbed of flirting, twirling and, eventually, making out. By the end of the night, adults from opposite sides of the world resembled teenagers at a make-out party. Whether it was love or simply lust, matches were being made all around me.

So, was it a successful promotion? Before the flight, Air New Zealand’s Marketing Director for the Americas, Kathryn Gregory, had told me that her airline strives “to make our guests’ holidays start as soon as they step on the plane.” By that standard, the Matchmaking Flight exceeded Air New Zealand’s expectations. And what about those people looking for love? I met two Kiwis who were rumored to be a couple by the end of my week there. And Corinne, our adventurous dater from LA, had gone on more than a few dates with one of the flight’s pilots. As for me, I was able to sleep on the plane and never really felt all that uncomfortable around the singles. But I didn’t enjoy myself as much this gentleman.

Mike Barish attended Air New Zealand’s Matchmaking Flight with a media credential. No editorial content was guaranteed and he was free to write about his observations.